Autoimmune disease is becoming an all too common problem in our Western world. Autoimmune conditions covers a number of ailments including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, celiac disease, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Autoimmune disease means that the body is having a difficult time being able to decipher self from non-self. Our immune system is our internal protection against invaders. This internal system needs to be able to clearly distinguish self from non-self, in order to know what it will let in and what it needs to attack. In people with autoimmune disease, their body is trying to fight some sort of stressor(s) that is causing chronic, systemic inflammation. There will be different stressors such as an infectious agent like a virus, bacteria, fungi or parasites that cause inflammation and elicit an immune response, calling on the immune system to come clear this infection. Or there are proteins from an allergen that cannot be properly metabolized which causes inflammation and calls on the immune system to come clean up and clear out the allergen. Or there are heavy metals or environmental toxins which should not be in the body therefore they cause inflammation and call on the immune system to come into action and work to clear these unwanted toxins. What happens is that there is so much inflammation, so many fires that the immune system needs to put out, that the immune system becomes overloaded and does not function properly. It loses its ability to properly decipher self from non-self, which results in the body attacking its own tissues. All autoimmune disease has this same biochemical process, a challenged immune system due to chronic inflammation that cannot decipher self from non-self.
Conventional medicine uses anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids or immune suppressant drugs to combat the problem. They use the anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids to reduce the inflammation, but this does not address what is causing the inflammation. If the anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids are not enough to control the symptoms then strong immunosuppressant drugs are used to shut down the immune system which is trying to manage the inflammation. None of these medications address the cause of the inflammation, and unfortunately these medications come with numerous side effects including intestinal bleeding, kidney failure, depression, osteoporosis, muscle wasting and chronic infections. These drugs can help people feel better and manage their symptoms which can be used short-term, but they are not long-term solutions and should only be used as a bridge while we treat the cause.
The biological medicine approach is:
- Identify and remove the stressors are causing the inflammation. When you reduce the load on the immune system, you allow it to function better. The stressors can include food intolerances, infectious agents, heavy metals, environmental toxins.
- Healing up the damage from the chronic inflammation.
- Re-program the immune system, to be able to have the ability to decipher self from non-self.